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Name:  Yvonne Victoria O’Dell

PhD: Archaeology

Thesis Title: Ontologies of Affect: Exploring emotional encounters and transformations in the Caribbean

Thesis Description:

My research considers affect theory in a transitional context, the colonial Caribbean, enabling an empirical examination of emotion in the archaeological record.

The Caribbean hosts a collision of worlds: a myriad of distinctive affective encounters. From the seventeenth century, cultures with vastly different ways of experiencing the world, with different ontological stances - Indigenous, European, and African diaspora - come together in a relatively small temporal and geographical context. Archaeologists are yet to question what this means for conceptualisations of emotion and affect, both before and after contact. My research will address different affective approaches, comparing and contrasting traditional European and indigenous theorizations. My analysis is based upon three case studies that best characterise the affective worlds of the colonial Caribbean, demonstrating transformation within the overarching history of the period: Indigenous, contact, and post-contact, considering settlements, cemeteries, and plantations. By focussing on emotion and ontology, my research will be able to develop more comprehensive and reflexive theorisations of affect, with significant implications for archaeology, and archaeological theory, in a much wider context. 

Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Dr Oliver Harris, University of Leicester

Dr Alice Samson, University of Leicester

Dr Jago Cooper, British Museum

Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

  • O’Dell, Y. 2015. The Implications of Imposing Modern Concepts of the Body and the Person onto the Past. The Post Hole. 42:28-34.

Excavation Experience:

Mona Island, Puerto Rico, June 2017

In a team of six, excavated a 5mx5m trench on the Playa Sardinera, Mona Island, alongside Jago Cooper and Alice Samson. Explored some of the island’s caves to view indigenous and colonial cave art.

Bradgate Park Excavation, July 2015

Worked for a week alongside ULAS and the University of Leicester excavating the medieval deer park of Bradgate in Leicester. 

Miller-Fielding site, Mohegan Reservation, Connecticut. 22nd June to 13th July 2014

Worked alongside the Mohegan Tribe and a team of professional archaeologists and other students for three weeks. Practiced recording and undertaking shovel test pits, as well as the excavation of a unit, alongside levelling and mapping. 

Burrough Hill Excavation, June 2013

Following the guidance of professional archaeologists, learned basic skills in practical archaeology to understand how to undertake an excavation. 

Work Experience and Public Engagement Activities:

  • Graduate Historic Environment Consultant at the Environment Partnership, October 2016 to August 2017
  • Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge , 2016 - Event volunteer
  • Leicester Award Gold 2015 – Business insight volunteering course
  • Leicester Award 2014 – Public outreach volunteering course
  • BBC World War One at Home 2014 – Event volunteer
  • Operation Nightingale 2014 – Public outreach volunteer
  • Kelmarsh Hall 2013 – Front of house volunteer

Awards and Achievements 

  • Samuel and Rachel May Prize 2015 (awarded by the School of Archaeology and Ancient History for outstanding performance during final year.
  • Professor J Simmons Prize 2015 (best performance in a Special Subject – Genocide in Europe 1939-1945)
  • Arthur Humphreys Memorial Prize 2015 (best performance in end of year examinations)
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Law College Prize 2014 (best second year undergraduate performance)
  • Second Year Archaeology Prize 2014
  • Sheila Spire Travel Scholarship 2014
  • Second Year Course Rep for Joint Honours History and Archaeology 2013-2014
  • First Year Archaeology Prize 2013 (best first year undergraduate performance)
  • Kesner Prize 2013 


Practitioner Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists from March 2017




University email address:


Twitter: @yvonnevictoriao